BECOMING POLICE GENDER ADVOCATES: A Long Road Ahead

21 Apr, 2019


 [NADI: 12 April 2019] Exactly twelve months after receiving their first training in Gender, Human Rights and the Elimination of all forms of Violence Against Women, 25 Senior Executive Level Police from across the Pacific re-gathered in Nadi this week to talk about their work over the last year in bringing about awareness and change as police gender advocates.  The second phase ofthe training began in Nadi this week at Raddison Resort Hotels, funded by the Australian Federal Police in collaboration with the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre (FWCC).

The Police Gender Advocates had completed their first training in April last year by drafting an annual plan that looked at basic action plans on issues that they wanted to affect change in, in terms of their personal lives, work environment and community activities.  “We understand that undertaking our training on gender, human rights and EVAW can sometimes be overwhelming at first, so we don’t expect you to come up with unrealistic or complex action plans.  Keep it simple and achievable because change starts with small steps and once you get the hang of it over time big changes will come as second nature to you.  You must also remember that you are not forced to become police gender advocates, this is a personal commitment you have to take on and once you do, you will be monitored but also supported said Shamima Ali, Coordinator of FWCC to the newly recruited gender advocates 12 months ago.

Some of the action plans mentioned in April last year ranged from individual behaviour change and accepting women and men as equals to the establishment of a Gender Equality Taskforces within the Police.  

At the opening of the second phase of the training, participants were given the opportunity to present on achievements and challenges in advocating for gender equality in the police workforce and in their personal, family and community lives.

“After the first training, I went home and immediately made some changes.  I made a roster where all my children are delegated domestic tasks no matter if the child is my son or daughter and my eldest son starting questioning me because he’s been so used to not having to do any domestic chores because I’ve always said that is for my daughters.  But I’ve changed that now and I talk to my children about why I’m doing that and the importance of gender equality,” expressed on participant from Fiji.

“We managed to get the Police Commissioner to agree to the establishment of a Gender Taskforce and it is now in operation in the Tonga Police Force,” was an update from a participant from Tonga.

“I supported the first female police officer being transferred to an outer island post and that may sound like a small gain but it’s a big one for us because it has never happened before,” shared a participant from Kiribati.

“I approached the Police Commissioner and lobbied for female police officers to join the peace and security assignment to Fiji during the general elections because it was suggested that no females be posted to Fiji because we wouldn’t be able to handle the security risk, however my superior listened while I lobbied and in the end I was successful,” shared a participant from Tuvalu.

“The AFP are committed to work with our Pacific partners to eliminate violence against women in the Pacific.  We are proud of our partnership with FWCC who are widely recognised as the experts from the region with experience in EVAW, human rights and gender work over the last 34 years.  They are best placed to deliver this training to Pacific police on how to advocate for gender equality and the elimination of VAWG because their investment is in challenging and changing negative attitudes and behaviours towards women as survivors of violence.  Becoming Police Gender Advocates comes with its challenges and it’s a long road ahead, but one that we in the AFP fully support” says Vanessa Stone, Advisor Australian Federal Police.

This week has pushed participants to look deeper into challenges that they have faced in being Police Gender Advocates.  “Becoming gender advocates is not a one or two-week workshop outcome.  It takes years to be able to have the confidence, expertise and skills to effectively communicate and advocate gender equality messages.  So, we don’t expect you to be perfect.  What we do expect however is for you to be honest about your challenges so that we can unpack these challenges and help give you the tools and knowledge of how to navigate through these challenges.  This is why we are investing in a long-term approach because unpacking genderisation, internalisation and institutionalisation takes a lot oftraining, support and mentoring,” said Shamima.

At the end of the training this week participants stepped up their efforts in promoting gender equality in the police and in their personal lives by building on their personal and organisational plans to execute over the next 12 months.The closing ceremony keynote remarks was made by the Deputy Police Commissioner of Police, Fiji Rusiate Tudravu.  “It is so important that this training is rolled out amongst all levels of Fiji Police and Police throughout the Pacific, but more importantly that all leaders in the Police are trained and their mindsets are changed, so that it will trickle down.  There is a saying that you can’t treat an old dog new tricks, but Shamima knows that this is not true because I sat in Shamima’s training with the Police Commissioner and I know how much I have changed.  I used to dislike her  and not believe in what she stood for, but since doing her training, I’ve changed the way I view Shamima and I now understand the critical importance of this training.  I was part of the old dogs, and I have changed my own old views so this proves that this training can affect change,” said Deputy Commissioner Tudravu.Also in attendance at the closing ceremony was Chris Burgess, Acting Mission Commander Pacific, AFP Suva Office.

The second phase of the training is supported under the Australian Federal Police Pacific Police Development Program.

For more information please contact Shamima Ali +679 999 2875.

Copyright © 2019. Fiji Women's Crisis Centre.